Local swimmers impress at Great Alaska Open

Juneau-Douglas senior Tyler Mickelson wins all his events

Posted: Monday, February 21, 2011

There were swim clubs from all over Alaska competing in this weekend’s 2011 Senior Region XIV Great Alaska Open Swim Meet, but it was the locals who dominated their hometown pool.

Glacier Swim Club’s boys’ and girls’ teams combined to score a whopping 1,638 points to grab first place convincingly over second-place Northern Lights Swim Club with 462 points.

The boys’ team accounted for 998 points, 564 points ahead of second-place Southeast Alaska Swim Club, while the girls also won easily with 640 points.

“We feel we have the largest and strongest boys’ team out there, so the results were as expected. Our boys swam really well,” GSC coach John Wray said. “Calvin Walsh had a couple of very strong swims in the 200 and 500 freestyle, and Jonah Swanson swam very well with a couple of personal bests and was second-highest point-getter.

“And Tyler Mickelson won all events he entered,” he continued. “He didn’t have any personal bests, but he swam really strong — just like he was supposed to.”

Thunder Mountain’s Walsh finished first in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:51.89, nearly five seconds faster than his preliminary time. His time of 5:12.45 in the 500 freestyle finals was good enough for third place.

Mickelson and Swanson, first and second highest scorers, respectively, combined to win six individual events (Mickelson four, Swanson two). Swanson also finished in third in the 100 freestyle and fourth in the 50 free.

The girls’ team knew going in they faced a top-level team in the form of Northern Lights Swim Club, but Wray said the ladies were up to the challenge.

“I thought they did quite well. Auri Clark had a really strong meet with a number of personal bests,” Wray said. “There were some very strong female swimmers from Anchorage, but we were able to win some events.

“A freshman, Addie Gonwa-Ramonda, is new to competitive swimming but won the 200 breaststroke,” he continued. “We also have an exchange student, Gabi Muzzilli, who swam very strong.”

Wray recognized the points the girls’ and boys’ teams put up were also an indicator of the number of kids who participated. While the boys’ team is strong and experienced, Wray said the success of his young girls’ team is exciting, even with one of its stronger swimmers, Haley Mertz, nursing an injury.

“Our girls’ team is very talented, but we’ve got some young girls who are trying to find their way,” he said. “And Haley wasn’t able to compete very strong with her injury. If she had been fit she would have made her presence known, also.”

The GSC season continues with the age group championships in Fairbanks next weekend, and Wray said while this group has had success, their job as coaches is to push them even more.

“We’re trying to get them to look beyond high school state champions and look to qualify for meets in the lower 48 states and raise the level of competition,” he said. “They work hard for 13 weeks in the high school season, get a short break then turn around and get back in the water working out six days a week.

“Most of them will be doing that until April,” he continued. “With that level of dedication, I’m proud to be coaching them.”

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